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FOOD REVIEW

The Essential Vegetarian

Stephanie’s -- Pricey Goat Cheese

By Katharyn Jeffreys

Features Editor

I would like to relay for you a hypothetical conversation combining questions people have asked me since becoming a vegetarian.

Non-Vegetarian: Do you eat meat?

Essential Vegetarian: No.

NV: Not even chicken?

EV: Chicken is meat too. I don’t eat anything with flesh.

NV: But you eat fish?

EV: Must I answer that?

NV: Ok, what about cheese and milk?

EV: I do eat cheese and milk. I am not a vegan, although I wish I had the time and patience to be. It was very easy to stop eating meat, but taking the extra step to go vegan was very difficult.

NV: I heard that Jell-O is made with horse hooves. That’s a myth right?

EV: Wrong. Gelatin is a tasteless, odorless substance extracted by boiling bones, hooves and other animal tissues.

NV: Do you think everyone should be vegetarian?

EV: Yes, I do.

NV: But what would we do with all the cows if everyone stopped eating them? Wouldn’t they take over the planet?

EV: No. We would just stop forcing them to breed. Then they would naturally reduce their number to that which the earth could sustain.

NV: I see. Well, are you planning on raising your children vegetarian? And what if your husband wants meat?

EV: I would raise my child vegetarian assuming she could live a healthy life that way. I respect other people’s eating choices, and while I encourage everyone to be vegetarian, I do not hold meat-eating against someone on a personal level.

NV: Well you’ve convinced me. What can I do to be a vegetarian?

EV: Stop eating meat. Do it a little at a time if you need to, but you can also try it cold turkey.

And that is the way conversations I have with non-vegetarians go.

It was such a nice day Wednesday that I decided to take a stroll across the bridge to have lunch on Newbury Street. I found the patio of Stephanie’s on Newbury Street to be the perfect locale to enjoy the warm fall day.

The menu makes extensive use of goat cheese. Most of the vegetarian dishes make use of this creamy flavorful cheese. One such dish was the amazing grilled pizza appetizer. The thin fluffy crust is topped with pesto, sun dried tomatoes, potatoes, portabella mushrooms, caramelized onions and, of course, goat cheese. It was a delightful treat, grilled into a toasty warm medley of flavors.

For the main course, I stayed simple and ordered a vegetable wrap. I was sadly disappointed. Not only was it cold (I was hoping for a hot one) the fillings were uninteresting: zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and, you guessed it, goat cheese. It was served with a mushy pickle and some nice mixed greens.

I sampled the mashed potatoes from my dining companion’s plate, and must say they were quite tasty. The menu also offered several vegetarian salads and entrees which I did not sample.

Finally, the dessert I opted for was a caramel apple tart with caramel ice cream. It was tasty but slightly overcooked (the crust was dry and hard).

It was an acceptable lunch, but the people watching and sunshine were outweighed by the $50 price tag that went with the location. I think for lunch I would rather get a $2 falafel sandwich and watch people cross Mass Ave.

This week’s recipe was sent my way by my grandma, who frequently clips recipes of interest from her newspaper in Ft. Myers, FL. So, thanks Gram, and I hope you all enjoy it. As always, e-mail me comments and questions at veggie@the-tech.mit.edu.

Spicy Fall Ratatouille

1 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound small zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

3 medium sweet red peppers, stems, seeds and membranes removed, and cut into 1-inch squares

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 28 oz. can Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Place cubed eggplant and zucchini in large colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat completely dry. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add eggplant and zucchini and sautÉ, stirring constantly, 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In same skillet add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. When hot, add onions and sautÉ 10 minutes, stirring, add red peppers and garlic. SautÉ, stirring, 5 minutes more. Return eggplant and zuccchini to skillet. Stir in tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste, and season with additional thyme, salt, and red pepper flakes if desired. (if not using immediately, cool to room temperature and refrigerate, covered, in non reactive dish. Reheat, stirring, in skillet over medium heat until warm. Makes 6 servings.